I have been thinking – will Christian fundamentalism die within our generation, baring any unforeseen Second Coming?
I am not sure I can rightly call myself a fundamentalist anymore – I have ‘seen the light’ so to speak. Instead of simply reading the words on paper, in the KJV, I now attempt to study the contexts, the original languages, and the traditional uses of the Scripture.
This is not to mean that I am forsaking my extremely conservative stances on Scripture – Paul wrote all books by his name, Christ really is God, the Apostles really knew the doctrine – but since fundamentalism is usually defined by the lack of, rather, the rejection of education, I cannot call myself that.
I am a bit more opened minded than others who may or may not still call me ‘brother’, yet, on the important things I am more hardcore than many.
With the onset of the internet, with the new technology available, usually for free, at our fingertips, what will prevent others from studying biblical books – the Fathers, the Reformers, the Skeptics, and the Bibliobloggers? Unless fundamentalists as a whole decide to move to a distant island and live with nothing more than the bare essentials, fundamentalism will be dead within generation.
Because, fundamentalism deprives the community of advancement. It focuses the community on one person of authority – who dictates according to whim, not always corrupt – and gives that person the sole responsiblity of another. Yet, in a world where we now work further away from our homes, where our communication is generally defined by social networking, and thus our communities are not our nearest neighbors, but those people who we interact with from across the country and the world instead of those next door or down the street.
When our communities expand past the church house door, we are generally hit with a considerable amount of information – and sometimes, that information is diameterically opposed to our belief system. So, what happens? Since fundamentalism is against education, focusing instead on the abandonment of authority to another, when we are hit with information for which we have no answer, we are shaken, standing on sandy ground.
Since fundamentalism rejects education and and generally denies any answers beyond ‘God said it’, it will die and with it, many earnest and sincere believers who otherwise would have survived with sound teaching.
So, what do we (former) fundamentalists do? We teach our family, and if give an chance, our communites, the foundation of our beliefs – the answers, the defenses, the apologetics, and where we can find no answers for our doctrine, we abandon it. The stand-by of ‘So and so said it, and that’s what we will do’ will no longer work, especially if we wish to continue to criticize the Catholics and other Communions for the doing the same. Simply because our ‘So and So’ is only a generation removed, and not say, 1600 years, it does not give us any more a firmer foundation than they. Instead, we must seek out our traditions and go by this rule:
If we cannot find our doctrine in a generation succeeding the Apostles, then it might be that that Doctrine is Tradition – and if it is unbiblical, then it should be abandoned.
We begin to write something more than tracts – using more than ourselves for references. We write our theologies down, and solidify them, with logic and reason, with education and evidence. We remember that the Apostles, while preaching, then wrote down their words.
It is indeed the Word of God which calls people to God, yet, we must also be ready to give an answer instantly, and that answer must be more than ‘Because God said so.’ If that was all the answer which was needed – our New Testament would have been rather short.
These are just my thoughts, friends, after having come through recent battles over a fundamentalist issue, but my faith is the stronger for it, and I believe, that if we begin to build that foundation, our Christian faith will be stronger for it.